After a week of connecting with the quiet and solitude of nature, I am ready to reacquaint myself with the hustle and bustle of the city. It was an interesting, though very quiet time spent at my cottage with just Jessie and me. Jessie is our family dog, a black goldenpoo and one of the best swimmers I know. From a dog’s perspective this is the perfect place to be – no fences, no traffic, no noise and an abundance of water to swim in, sunshine to laze around in and animal life to entertain you when things get slow. For a type “A” personality it provides a bit of a challenge. What do you do by yourself for a week in communion with nature?
One of the definitions of “commune” according to Webster’s is to communicate intimately – with nature. I decided that this week I would draw on the inspiration of nature to spark my creativity and hopefully create some landscape paintings. My early morning kayak rides with Jessie presented some new perspectives and points of view. Sitting on the dock, I used to think the lake was peaceful, but from the view point in the kayak, the land looked very peaceful. Why is it that “peace” is always somewhere else?
I tried to practice meditation every day with limited success. Somehow the noise of nature distracted me and called me back to its’ presence. I read somewhere recently if you want to feel happy, go outside with nature. It is alive and calling you to notice it. As I write this, I hear a bird noisily chirping in the background. That may be what mindfulness is all about – noticing. And from my limited understanding of meditation, we can notice thoughts, feelings, sensations, and then let them go without judgment.
I have heard that painting and drawing can be meditative because you have a single focus, forget about your daily worries, lose your sense of time, and become one with the process. As with meditation, it is possible to find a sense of inner peace provided that our inner critic doesn’t take over. But for the moment, let’s just say that if we don’t give in to our need for perfection, creating art can be a peaceful and enjoyable experience. And like meditation, it takes practice and intention.
Though I didn’t accomplish nearly as much art making as I set out to do, I read some beautiful poetry from Roger Housden’s Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime. I swam and played Frisbee with Jessie and enjoyed her company as we watched the sun rise and set together. I noticed the beauty of nature in the sparkle of the sun on the lake in the day and the reflection of the moon on the water at night. I noticed the warm air of summer days, and the cooling breeze at night. I noticed the songs of the birds and insects and the whispering of the trees. I noticed the summer flowers blooming and the bees buzzing all around. I spent a week in communion with nature and felt at peace.
p.s. I received this in an email today from Laurie and think it fits, so here goes….
If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without alcohol,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
Then you are probably the family dog!